A mom of a special needs 20-year-old says she usually finds it difficult to get her daughter out of the house without risking a meltdown. One supermarket cashier helped change all that by having the young woman scan groceries with her in a heartwarming exchange that is taking the internet by storm (video below).
Carmen Chapa's daughter, Lexi, has Down syndrome, autism, sensory processing disorder, Pica, and mood disorder, according to the Daily Mail. She is considered nonverbal and frequently becomes anxious in public, to the point that Carmen usually shows Lexi pictures and videos of where they are going and what they will be doing before they leave the house, since the predictability helps Lexi stay calm.
In the video, uploaded to YouTube by Caters Clips, Carmen and Lexi are checking out at the grocery counter on Oct. 18, when a cashier named Nicole asks Lexi if she wants to scan the items with her.
"Nicole was an absolute sweetheart," Carmen told the Daily Mail of the interaction. "Getting out in the community is tough on Lexi as it can be sensory chaos. The slightest change can cause her great anxiety. Without me explaining anything to Nicole, she exhibited a level of natural acceptance and understanding that I rarely witness. I just stood in awe of her."
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Lexi tends to show signs of anxiety in public that can include hand-wringing, scratching herself, squawking and occasionally running away without any thought toward her own safety. Sensory overload, changes in routine, communication difficulties and general anxiety are frequent triggers for those on the autistic spectrum, notes the U.K.'s National Autistic Society.
Though Lexi has never acted interested in helping at the checkout counter before, Carmen told the Daily Mail that "it meant a lot to her" that Nicole brought her into the process.
"What I think really sets this apart from other occasions where kind individuals have welcomed her is that Nicole looked at Lexi," added Carmen. "She spoke directly to her and did not consult me as Lexi's mouthpiece. She wanted to connect directly with Lex and, I truly believe, that Lexi sensed that and honored it."